The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday said it has arrested six terrorists, including a PhD scholar, for launching the abortive suicide car bomb attack on a CRPF convoy on Jammu-Srinagar highway last month.
The failed attack was jointly hatched by militant outfits Jaish-e-Mohammad and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen under the command of a Pakistani terrorist, Munna Bihari, Jammu Inspector General of Police M K Sinha told reporters here.
The arrested PhD scholar is an active member of Jamiat-e-Talaba, the student wing of banned Jammat-e-Islami (JeI), said Sinha.
His interrogation has revealed that JeI student wing is currently engaged in radicalizing youths for "jehad" in a big way, he added.
Sinha identified the five arrested terrorists as PhD scholar Hilal Ahmad Mantoo, Waseem alias "Doctor", Umar Shafi, Aqib Shah, all hailing from Shopian and Shahid Wani alias "Watson" of Pulwama.
The sixth one, Hizbul suicide bomber Owais Amin was arrested on April 1 from Teethar in Banihal when he was trying to escape after unsuccessfully targeting a CRPF convoy with a car bomb near the Jawahar Tunnel - the gateway to the valley on March 31.
Sinha said the National Investigation agency is taking over the case tomorrow for further investigation, though, he added, the J&K police has completely worked it out.
Sinha said two HIzbul modules were involved in fabricating the car bomb.
"Two modules of Hizbul Mujahideen, one led by Dr Saifullah of Pulwama and the other led by Rayees Khan alias Imad Khan of Shopian had jointly worked to fabricate the car bomb and to take other steps for the explosion," he added.
Sinha identified a Pakistani terrorist Muna Bihari, operating in south Kashmir in collusion with a local JeM militant Shahjahan, as the mastermind behind the fabrication of the car bomb by planting IED inside it.
The Jammu IGP, however, ruled out any link between the February 14 Pulwama car bomb attack which left 40 CRPF personnel dead and the Banihal attack.
He, however, did not rule out the involvement of Pakistan in Banihal attack, saying "the entire module led by Hizbul chief in the valley, Riyaz Naikoo, and Saifullah were involved in the attack along with JeM Pakistani terrorist Muna Bihari".
He added that the identity of the exact person who directed them to carry out the attack was not yet known.
Sinha said the J&K police was yet to identify the owner of the car used in the failed bid.
"The chassis number and the engine number of the vehicle used in the attack were tempered with. We have sent the vehicle to FSL and they are trying to retrieve the original numbers," he said.
Sinha said the source of the gelatin sticks too is to be ascertained and the NIA may find it out in subsequent probe.
PhD scholar Mantoo, who was doing some research on anxiety among the students, was arrested from Central University Bathinda in Punjab, he said.
He revealed in his interrogation that Jamiat-e-Talaba is "radicalizing youths in a big way for Jehad", he said.
"Youths are taken in Jamait-ul-Talba after careful screening and once inducted, they are given an extremely hard-core religious orientation and made to indulge in various activities including terror operations," the IGP said.
Sinha said the radicalisation of youth is a major threat because a radicalised youth can do anything and indulge in any violent act.?
He said the group that was involved in the fabrication of the IED, procuring gelatin sticks, urea, acids and other material was working under the overall command of the Pakistani terrorist.?
"Amin along with his friend Omar and Aqib were working as over ground workers?of Rayees Khan who became active terrorist of Hizbul Mujahideen in 2018. After the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani, all four of them were involved in stone pelting," said Sinha.
These terrorists were selected for the explosion because they had a clean slate and were off the police radar with no criminal case registered against them earlier, the IGP said.